Local Teams Help Family, Friends Cope After a Suicide
David Miers, Ph.D., LIPC, Bryan Medical Center Mental Health Services, Co-Founder Lincoln/Lancaster LOSS Team
Extension Contact: Susan Harris-Broomfield, Extension Educator
The unexpected death of a loved one is an intensely traumatic event for those left behind. When that loss is due to suicide, another level of trauma often sets in. Suicide deaths still carry a stigma in our society. Survivors often feel emotions of intense guilt, longing, sadness, and hurt.
After a loss to suicide, family members left behind are themselves nine to 12 times more likely to die by suicide and are at a higher risk for experiencing health, relationship, and work difficulties.
Bryan Medical Center helped develop Nebraska’s first Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team in Lincoln/Lancaster County in 2009. This volunteer group provides support to individuals in the Lincoln/Lancaster County area as soon as possible after the death of a loved one to suicide.
This team has been highly successful in responding to families in need, providing resources and support, and facilitating a healthy grieving and mourning process. Each LOSS Team has several members; for example, a call to the Lincoln team activates three members each time: two people who have survived a loved one’s suicide, plus a mental health practitioner.
Studies have demonstrated the positive impact of active intervention for families in suicide’s aftermath. Research shows that those who do not have contact with a team such as LOSS wait 4.5 years before seeking help, and those who have contact with a group such as LOSS reach out for support within 39 days.
Since the development of the Lincoln/Lancaster LOSS Team, other communities have developed teams. These include:
- Beatrice/Fairbury (Blue River LOSS Team)
- Kearney (Central Nebraska LOSS Team)
- Omaha (Omaha Metro Team)
- North Platte (Southwest Nebraska LOSS Team)
- Seward/York/Butler/Polk (Four Corners LOSS Team)
Teams also are being developed elsewhere in Nebraska. Please refer to the map for contact information.
In most cases the teams are activated by law enforcement, but if a family is open to a visit with the LOSS team they can contact the team directly.
For more information regarding LOSS Teams in Nebraska and how to access them, visit: www.nelossteam.nebraska.edu